Quotations & Analysis


The following quotations are important at various points in the story: (Edition used: Farrar, 1975)

1. “The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning.”

(pg. 3; this is an introduction to the theme of the story and the motif of the wheel.)


2. “Fixed points they are (hubs), and best left undisturbed, for without them, nothing holds together. But sometimes people find this out too late.”

(pg. 4; this is the author’s observation that life is like a wheel.)

3. “And that would have been a disaster so immense that this weary old earth, owned or not to its fiery core, would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin.”

(pg. 8; this is the author’s point that the secret of the spring must never be revealed.)

4. “ ‘Well, boys,’ she said, ‘here it is. The worst is happening at last.’ ”

(pg. 30; here Mae voices the fear that Tucks have lived with for 87 years: that someone else would discover the spring.)

5. “They were her friends, her friends. She was running away after all, but she was not alone. Closing the gate on her oldest fears as she had closed the gate of her own fenced yard, she discovered the wings she’d always wished she had.”

(pgs. 44-45; this expresses how much Winnie wanted to break the bonds of childhood and become independent.)

6. “ ‘It’d be nice, ‘ she said, ‘if nothing ever had to die.’ “

(pg. 85; here Winnie expresses the common human wish, but a wish that cannot ever come true.)

7. “Winnie saw again the wide world spread before her, shimmering with light and possibility. But the possibilities were different now, They did not point to what might happen to her but to what she herself might keep from happening.”

(pg. 105; this is the moment that Winnie reaches her highest level of maturity yet: she knows that she is now responsible from preventing the worst than can ever happen from happening.)

8. “That feeling – it tied her to them, to her mother, her father, her grandmother, with strong threads too ancient and precious to be broken. But there were new threads now, tugging and insistent, which tied her just as firmly to the Tucks.”

(pg. 108; Winnie realizes how humans are all tied together in specific bonds that must not be broken.)

9. “At midnight she would make a difference in the world.”

(pg. 115; Winnie has made the solemn decision to free Mae and in the process, save the world.)

10. “Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage.”

(pg. 123; this quote from a poem by Richard Lovelace becomes Winnie’s mantra to give her the courage to help Mae escape.)

11. “The first week of August was long over. And now, though the autumn was still some weeks away, there was a feeling that the year had begun its downward arc, that the wheel was turning again, slowly now, but soon to go faster, turning once more in its changeless sweep of change.”

(pg. 127; this is the author’s continuing reference to the motif of the wheel and how it, like the earth, never stops turning.)

12. “She was a figure of romance to them now, where before she had been too neat, too prissy; almost somehow, too clean to be a real friend.”

(pg. 130; this shows how Winnie has changed for the better to other kids her age who had never befriended her before.)

13. “ ‘ Durn fool thing must think it’s going to live forever, ‘ he said to Mae.”

(pg. 139; ironically, Angus’ comment is actually true.)